$250K homes are out there, but finding one largely depends on where a buyer chooses to live. South Floridians have sometimes moved about 80 miles north to find lower housing prices, but each area of the state has a few areas – typically smaller towns – with a few $250K homes.
NAPLES – Real estate experts across the state have witnessed the rapid rise of the mid-pandemic housing market. Some house hunters sought bigger spaces to work from home, while some existing homeowners held on for dear life, causing an inventory shortage that can hardly keep up with demand.
A handful of markets have started to see median sale numbers drop in May, signaling a shift and perhaps a long-awaited slowdown of rising prices.
What a prospective homebuyer can get for $250,000 depends on where they decide to live. But wherever they’re looking, Realtors say the options out there are limited.
Here’s a glimpse at what the regions across Florida are seeing:
South Florida/Treasure Coast houses for sale
While the median sale prices in Broward and Miami-Dade counties signaled a potential cooling of the housing market, figures in Palm Beach County keep punching up. According to May numbers released by the Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie Realtors, Palm Beach County’s median figure rose to $475,000, up from $466,000 in April.
In May 2020, Palm Beach County’s median sale price was $365,000. Broward had dipped slightly in May to $463,750 while Miami-Dade dropped to $500,000, down from $515,000 last month.
“I have been pretty shocked by the rapid price appreciation across the tri-county area (in South Florida), Palm Beach in particular,” said Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University.
Barry Gardner, a Realtor with Atlantic Florida Properties in Lake Worth Beach, said the further north you go, the more affordable homes get. While that was a trend before the pandemic, the hot market has certainly exasperated that dichotomy, he said.
“Because of the massive price increases in this area, (homeowners say), ‘I’d love to sell my home, but where can I go?’” Gardner said. “They look at it, ‘Maybe if I move 50, 80 miles (north), the prices will be a little lower.”
The cost of a single-family home in Palm Beach County in April was 56% higher than in St. Lucie County. But looking at the condo market, those prices in St. Lucie were 9% higher than in Palm Beach County.
The inventory of homes below $250,000 were incredibly low in the Treasure Coast, especially when excluding those age-restricted communities or those requiring homeowner’s association fees.
St. Lucie County’s May median sale price grew to $299,000, while Indian River County went to $340,000. Martin County saw a drop from April to May, from $490,000 to $469,900.
North Central Florida houses for sale
Central Florida is one of the more affordable regions in the state. The median home price in Alachua County was $307,100. Polk County had the second-highest median at $260,250 and Marion’s median sits at $225,000. Alachua’s median home price increased 16% from April 2020 to April 2021, from $246,000 to $285,250. And inventory in that same period decreased more than 56%.
“In my 40 years I have never seen inventory this low, ever,” said Patti Moser, president of the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors, adding that many homes are selling above the list price.
People are coming into Florida from all over, particularly the Northeast and California. Some markets, like Pensacola, are seeing an influx of people relocating from Atlanta and Chicago.
Greg Pittas, president of the Ocala Marion County Association of Realtors, said similar trends are underway in neighboring Marion County. They are down 63% compared to inventory this time last year.
Polk County’s median home prices are up 18.3% compared to the same time last year. The most popular homes in the Lakeland market run between $200,000 and $300,000, fetching between 19 and 25 offers apiece. Many homes can go for upwards of $20,000 above asking price.
Southwest Florida houses for sale
Southwest Florida counties have a wide range of median home prices. In Hendry County, on the southwest side of Lake Okeechobee, the median in April was $209,000. On the coast in Collier County, the median in May is $650,000, the highest of the state’s metropolitan statistical areas. Collier County also had the highest year-over-year change at 44%, according to Florida Realtors®. Just to the north in Lee County, the median sales price is $365,000.
Jason Jakus, broker/owner of Your Next Home Advisors in Fort Myers, said a recent search of the MLS showed 20 single-family homes under $250,000 in the small town of LaBelle.
“That’s less than what’s normally out there,” he said. “Inventory in Florida, in general, is at the lowest we’ve seen in a long time. But still, when you have a city the size of LaBelle, it’s actually really good, compared to other cities, in Lee or Collier counties.”
The available homes all have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a two-car garage.
In Clewiston, prices are a bit more affordable and get better the further inland you go, but inventory is tighter, Jakus said. “Clewiston has got a lot of trailers and mobile homes, so there are not as many single-family homes,” he said.
In 2011, the median $250,000 Lee County home was built in 2002 and was about 1,630 square feet. A median home for that price in Lee County today was built in 1970 and is 1,150 square feet, Grimes said from the data he viewed. About 64% fewer homes have sold for that price in that time.
First Coast/Space Coast houses for sale
The Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area – which includes Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties – had a median sale price of $315,000 in May, a nearly 19% change over the past year.
The median sales price of a home in Flagler County is $294,120, a slight drop from $300,000 in April.
As of late May, Flagler County’s beachside, which includes Flagler Beach and the ritzy Hammock Dunes area, had zero homes for sale in the $250,000 range, according to Ryan Ford, president of the Flagler County Association of Realtors. Ford is also vice president and managing broker of the Palm Coast office of Watson Realty Corp.
The lowest-priced beachside listing in the county had an asking price of $379,900.
In Volusia County, the median sale price was $280,000. For the first time ever in April, the median percent of original list price received for existing homes sold in Volusia County hit 100%, meaning that half sold above the asking price, according to the last monthly county-wide home sales figures, provided by the West Volusia Association of Realtors.
In April, the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors reported 134 new listings under $250,000.
“A year ago, it would have been at least several hundred at that price range,” said Alisa Rogers, the association’s president and a broker associate with 1st Florida Realty in Daytona Beach. “The homes you are finding on the beachside for $250,000 or less are mostly fixer-uppers, if you can even find one.”
Some homes on the mainland are going under contract within 24 hours, she noted.
In Brevard, median prices are going up, and up and up. In 2019, the median list price of a residential property was $232,297 and the median sale price was $225,000. The next year, the median list price was $257,000 and the median sale price was $250,000. In the first five months of 2021, the median list price was $267,945 and the median sale price was $265,000, with the sale price exceeding the list price in both April and May.
The median sale price in May reached $290,000.
Florida Panhandle houses for sale
The median sale price in Leon County in May was $267,000, a slight increase from April. An average single-family home in Leon is a 1,600-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Closed sales were up 33.7% compared to May 2020, but that was also the month with the lowest closed sales in five years, according to Steven Louchheim, CEO of Tallahassee Board of Realtors. Comparing May 2021 and May 2019, the rate of sales is up by 10%.
Farther west, the Pensacola area real estate market has thrived during the pandemic, and Realtors say the influx of remote workers and families relocating from large cities out-of-state like Atlanta or Chicago have been driving up housing prices. Florida Realtors reported that the metropolitan statistical area that covers Escambia and Santa Rosa counties had a median sales price of $275,000 in May, up more than 20% in the past year.
The houses that are for sale recently aren’t listed long, with the average number of days on the market at only 20 compared to the same time last year when it hovered around 55.
In the $250,000 range, buyers often need to look outside the city limits and, as of Thursday, Zillow showed only 37 homes for sale in Escambia between $245,000 and $255,000. In the same price range in Santa Rosa, there were only 14 listings.
© 2021 Journal Media Group. Florida reporters Dave Berman of Florida Today, TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat, Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News, Clayton Park of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Paul Runnestrand of the Florida Times-Union, Emily Mavrakis of the Gainesville Sun, Lamaur Stancil of the TC Palm, David Dorsey of The News-Press, Maya Lora of The Lakeland Ledger and Emma Kennedy of the Pensacola News Journal contributed to this report.
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